Forrest General’s Wound Healing Center wants the public to know how to properly care for feet
According to a 2016 report by the Mississippi State Department of Health, there were an estimated 308,295 adults in Mississippi with diabetes. That year, 1,083 people died from diabetes or complications of the disease.
Amputation of the lower extremities is one of many serious concerns for people with type 2 diabetes, because blood vessel and nerve damage linked with diabetes can lead to infections that are extremely hard to treat. When patients develop neuropathy and lose the ability to feel their toes and feet, they are more likely to injure them without knowing it. Even a minor injury, such as a small cut, can develop into an ulcer and a serious infection. Infections of the feet can spread up into the leg. Sometimes the infection is so severe that toes, the foot, and/or possibly part of the leg must be amputated.
“Diabetes mellitus is prevalent in the state of Mississippi. Therefore, its cure and treatment are significant problems for our state and our society as a whole as it is expensive and time consuming. One of the major complications of the disease is the neuropathy of the lower extremities. This initially starts as simply a burning or unusual sensation in the feet and legs. It ultimately results in loss of sensation and development of ulcers on the feet. This can lead to complications especially if coupled with peripheral arterial disease that is also extremely prevalent in our society. The simultaneous occurrence of these two conditions can and often do result in major amputation. The Wound Healing Center’s goal is to prevent amputation of toes, feet, and legs through education and proper initial treatment,” said Lewis Hatten, MD, medical director, Forrest General Hospital Wound Healing Center.
Patients with diabetes should examine their feet every day, looking at all areas of the feet and toes. It may help to use a handheld mirror or a magnifying mirror attached to the bathroom wall near the baseboard.
Below is a daily checklist that may be useful when examining the feet:
- Redness could point to irritation from shoes or overheating or other early signs of a problem. Do what you can to discover the cause and fix it, such as wearing shoes that fit better.
- Blue or black areas can mean bruising or blood flow problems. Call your doctor to report them.
- Bald patches may mean irritation from shoes or a blood flow problem. Show the areas to your doctor during your next visit.
Try to discover the cause of the blister. Friction or rubbing against your skin causes blisters. You may need new shoes.
- Do not break the blister or open it yourself. Leave the skin over the blister intact.
- Cover the blister with sterile, non-stick dressing and paper tape.
- Call your doctor if any blister becomes red, oozes, or is not healing after 4 days.
Break in your skin
- Gently wash the area with mild soap; blot it dry and cover it with a sterile, nonstick dressing.
- Call your doctor if any break in the skin become red, oozes, or is not healing after 4 days.
- Be sure to examine the underside of your toes and the area between the toes for breaks in the skin.
Calluses (hardened areas of skin) and corns (pressure injuries, usually found on or between toes)
Peeling skin, tiny blisters between toes, or cracking and oozing of skin
Moisture between your toes
- Dry between your toes well. Moisture between the toes provides a good place for bacteria and fungi to grow, causing infection.
Sore or ulcer
- Do not try to treat a sore or ulcer at home. Call your doctor immediately. If you check your feet regularly, you usually will see a problem before it becomes an ulcer.
- Do not treat an ingrown toenail at home. Call your doctor for an appointment.
Checking the feet on a daily basis can help patients detect problems early. However, if someone has already noticed a wound that isn’t healing, it may be time to explore other treatment options such as those offered at Forrest General’s Wound Healing Center.